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Doubts raised over India's app bans

By APARAJIT CHAKRABORTY in New Delhi | China Daily | Updated: 2023-02-08 07:51

Concerns expressed

While Indian government officials said they are weighing their options, observers warn that business with China may not return to normal until trust is repaired. The apps that had been targeted earlier include WeChat, TikTok, Equalizer& Bass Booster, Tencent Xriver, Onmyoji Chess and Dual Space Lite.

India is one of the biggest international markets for Chinese apps. Sensor Tower, a company that provides market intelligence and analytics on mobile apps, said the TikTok app and WeChat messaging platform have garnered 4.9 billion downloads in India, including 750 million in 2020.

Manmohan Agarwal, honorary professor at New Delhi's Institute for Studies in Industrial Development, said it is very difficult to predict whether India will be successful in completely banning such apps because another similar app may be developed quickly under a different name.

The reasons behind the latest ban can be many, ranging from national security interests to concerns related to data protection or geostrategic tensions.

It could be also because Indian domestic online gaming and digital lending industries may have complained about foreign apps, alleging that they were engaging in malpractices, such as predatory lending, said Arpita Mukherjee, a professor at the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations.

It is part of India's geopolitical strategy and kind of a mind game, said Avijit Banerjee, head of the Department of Chinese Language and Culture at Visva-Bharati University in India's West Bengal state.

Gopal Krishna Agarwal, spokesperson for India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, said border disputes forced the Indian government to ban the apps, but the decision will not affect bilateral trade.

The writer is a freelance journalist for China Daily.

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